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The Practice of Everyday Life

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  2,902 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
Michel de Certeau considers the uses to which social representation and modes of social behavior are put by individuals and groups, describing the tactics available to the common man for reclaiming his own autonomy from the all-pervasive forces of commerce, politics, and culture. In exploring the public meaning of ingeniously defended private meanings, de Certeau draws bri ...more
Paperback, 253 pages
Published December 2nd 2002 by University of California Press (first published 1980)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 24, 2007 Holly rated it liked it
Shelves: taught, theory
I teach this sucker, so there's gotta be some good in it, right? Oh, but it's beastly dense in classic French post-structuralist fashion. Some of it is beautiful - I love his reflection on traveling by rail, and while I prefer Henri Lefebvre's place-space distinction (it makes more intuitive sense that the empty homogeneous stuff would be space and the emotionally marked stuff would be place), the discussion of how maps serve to make abstraction from itineraries (i.e. lived experience) is quite ...more
Jul 23, 2010 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
I'm giving this a full five stars while operating on the presumption that the parts I didn't understand are just as good as the parts I did. de Certeau is by no means an easy read, and I imagine a full comprehension of what he argues requires a facility with many more theorists and disciplines than I have (for example, I loved his critiques and analysis of Foucault and Bourdieu, but couldn't wrap my head around his discussions of Freud and Heidegger largely, I think, because my psychoanalysis an ...more
رغد قاسم
Aug 25, 2014 رغد قاسم rated it really liked it
كتاب مُرهق من كتب اللغة الجديدة :) كما أُسميها
مُتعب بالنسبة لغير الأكاديميين لكن فِيهِ فلسفة جيدة .
Feb 12, 2012 Christine rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-reads
I echo some of the previous readers' comments about the density and difficulty of De Certeau's sentences - I had to look up words in the dictionary 3 times in one sentence at some point, and this was at the graduate school level. However, I also love love his metaphor of walking in the city as a way of affirming individual ways of doing life, of seeing, of choosing, of practicing everyday life, in contrast to mainstream ways that society is constructed, as expressed in the metaphor by the set ro ...more
Apr 19, 2008 Andrew added it
Shelves: theeeeeeory
OK, so I know this was very influential on the transition between the study of representation and production and the study of practice and use. Despite that, other than a few select chapters, I found the book borderline unreadable. I can handle Foucault, Barthes, and Baudrillard just fine, and while Deleuze/Guattari is a stretch, I can still do it. This, on the other hand, just struck me as unreadable, and largely bullshit. So I can't say I was a fan, you know?
Oct 27, 2012 Lauren rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Way too wordy, dense, and heady, but full of wonderful ideas that assume the agency and capability of regular people. We aren't just consumers! We are doing things! The world is terrible, but every day we are resisting in really small ways. Isn't that great to hear?
Candy Wood
If I needed an explanation for not going into sociology, this book would provide it. Do we need a 200-page book to examine “the practice of everyday life”? I feel a bit like the centipede worrying about which foot to start out on. Still, there are some interesting insights: the tiny chapter 8, “Railway Navigation and Incarceration,” could stand alone as an essay on the strange relationship to space experienced by passengers on a train, and I was surprised and delighted to find a reference to Ver ...more
Linda Stewart
Apr 18, 2010 Linda Stewart rated it it was amazing
When I read the first paragraph of the introduction, I knew I had found a theoretical home. Michel de Certeau's "investigation of the ways in which users--commonly assumed to be passive and guided by established rules--operate" is about freedom, resistance, access, and the art of "dwelling" in the everyday. Reading de Certeau validated all the ways I have been teaching inductively. My practice was found in his theory. A reversal of good fortune. Be certain to read Chapter 7 - "Walking in the Cit ...more
This is a book I recommended frequently to people without actually having read, given that a classmate of mine back in the Medieval Spatial Theory course had explained parts of it very persuasively. It was hard to find in stores so I bought it online, and found it a very beautiful (and very deliciously-smelling) book. I read most of this in the Dublin airport (side-by-side with The Last Unicorn) which might be pretty fitting when you've got a book thinking about even our interactions with space ...more
Sep 11, 2015 Mbarak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
الكتاب في مستواه متفاوت ما بين الممل جدا والرائع جدا.

الأجزاء المملة هي بشكل عام القسمين الأولين و أجزاء من القسم الثالث والرابع (الكتاب يقع في خمسة أجزاء(. في هذه الأجزاء يكثر الحشو والتكرار و الدخول في تفاصيل مؤلفات و أبحاث أخرى قد لا يكون القارئ ملما بأي منها. هذه الأجزاء لا تستحق أكثر من نجمتين في التقييم.

لكن الأقسام الباقية هي بحق مذهلة وممتعة، بالذات بداية القسم الثالث (في الكلام عن المسارات في المدينة) و نهاية القسم الرابع (القراءة: اصطياد) ومرورا بكامل القسم الخامس (طرائق في الاعتقاد) و ح
Miguel Soto
El día a día, ignorado por las disciplinas más elevadas, es sin embargo la fuente de las estructuras sociales y personales. En esa cotidianeidad las personas se las ingenian, se las arreglan con lo que tienen, con todo y a pesar de que las élites encargadas de estructurar la situación traten de hacerles el bobo. Retomando numerosos ejemplos y puntualizaciones teóricas (en especial foucaultianas y freudianas), nos podemos acercar un poco a conocer esas tácticas, esas artes de hacer de la gente de ...more
This is the first time I've ever read a work of theory and felt like I was hearing my own thoughts, more clearly articulated, more grounded in the literature, but expressing impressions and preoccupations that were my own. I will reread it, quote it, act on it.
Dec 14, 2009 ThienVinh rated it really liked it
Shelves: social-theory
Hard to understand at first, but as you keep reading it, it starts making sense. de Certeau looks at how ordinary people through their everyday practices and embodied experiences reclaim their autonomy, and resist power structures.
Aug 11, 2012 Jacqueline rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Revisiting de Certeau for my diss revisions - helpful, frustrating, and thought-provoking all at once.
Matthijs Driesen
The writing is too thick. As usual with French intellectuals, he ought to have stepped off his high horse and sieved his language a little more. But I guess that to publish in France, it is mandatory to beat about the bush. If your understanding of French isn't very advanced, do find a translation, because this is a tough read. I read it three times, making notes. It is a shame that the reading experience is so very painful, because the points De Certeau makes are -very- interesting. In fact, he ...more
Mar 27, 2015 Trinankur rated it it was amazing
I am yet to read Benjamin thoroughly. But MdC, the supposed disciple of the Benjamin, has weaved her magic on me . It dissects and separates the practice of everyday from the concepts of everyday and perhaps an eye-opener to anyone who is interested in reading the modern urban societal structure between the lines.
Andee Nero
Apr 16, 2015 Andee Nero rated it really liked it
I think this book is important as far as its analysis of the human condition, but the translation I read was very difficult to navigate. It used too many archaic words, which is funny, considering that the book examines word usage. Then again, I make this criticism of all of the post structural writers.
Nov 18, 2008 Daniela rated it liked it
The Practice of Everyday Life is a tribute to the ingenuity of the everyday person. It's a set of essays, and should be read this way (he seems to contradict himself - at time a structuralist and at other time a post-structuralist). He describe contemporary societies as transforming from verbal to visual. The ordinary (the ants, the weak) cope with their circumstances by being creative and circumventing the cards they are dealt. He believes people in everyday life don't follow scripts but they c ...more
Mar 12, 2015 Mac added it
A challenging book to read, to understand, and to connect to real life, but one that was also strikingly beautiful at times and profound even in its obscurity. I found that I appreciated it more after reading Vincent Miller's Consuming Religion which draws on de Certeau.
Oct 28, 2014 Shane rated it it was amazing
An absolutely incredible perceptive trail through modern urban life, told with a voice that seems to understand the heartbeat of a city.
kayla reed
Dec 22, 2012 kayla reed rated it really liked it
This was awesome- some of his analyses are incredibly beautiful. Some are completely incomprehensible. I advice following the translator's advice (from my edition at least) and reading parts 3-5 before reading 1-2. I didn't and 1-2 were very confusing and theoretical and I had a difficult time following much, especially not knowing a ton about the context in which the book was written. However, parts 3-5 were very enjoyable and moving to read. Would highly recommend if you're interested in philo ...more
Vikas Lather
Jun 27, 2016 Vikas Lather rated it liked it
One of the most romantic readings on space theory
Kristin Canfield
Feb 06, 2015 Kristin Canfield rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spatial-theory
love love love.
John Carter McKnight
Feb 16, 2012 John Carter McKnight rated it it was amazing
Shelves: academic
As rewarding as it is challenging, this should be required reading for anyone in the humanities or social sciences. The Practice of Everyday Life is a turn from "producer studies" in the humanities and STS, turning the focus from authors, designers and engineers to the user. Excellent set of tools for thinking about games, "piracy," remix culture and a wide range of topics of contemporary interest.

No short review can do this magesterial work justice. Read it. Just be warned, it's *very* dense an
Jul 20, 2009 Dimitri rated it liked it
'Like the skill of a driver in the streets of Rome or Naples, there is a skill that has its connoisseurs and its esthetics exercised in any labyrinth of powers, a skill ceaselessly recreating opacities and ambiguities - spaces of darkness and trickery - in the universe of technocratic transparency, a skill that disappears into them and reappears again, taking no responsibility for the administration of a totality. Even the field of misfortune is refashioned by this combination of manipulation an ...more
Aug 26, 2015 Will rated it really liked it
last update: damn, everyday life is m y s t i c a l
Jan 19, 2014 Lotte rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french, non-fiction
Interessante theorie over hoe consumenten geen hersenloze schapen zijn, maar juist onbewust en actief omgaan met wat de technocratische macht hen voorschotelt. Zo schrijven we en mythuseren we de stad door shortcuts te nemen bv. Had alleen wel 80% korter kunnen zijn, had de Certeau de obligate woordspelingen en parodieën kunnen laten. Helaas, als epigoon van het Frans post-structuralisme kon de Certeau dat blijkbaar niet loslaten. Kortom: verrijkend voor doorbijters.
Megan Adams
Feb 06, 2013 Megan Adams rated it it was amazing
Shelves: specialized-list
DeCerteau's ideas about looking at the stories inherent in histories. Although his prose can be hard to follow at times (he is a french philosopher). I think his overall claims about the powers of discourse, and the composition of theory and everyday life as a series of stories is helpful and intriguing to consider. I plan to give this book a closer read in order to consider his ideas thoughtfully; it's definitely a book to make time to sit with.
Sarah Pearlstein
Dec 07, 2008 Sarah Pearlstein is currently reading it
So far - I feel like DeCerteau was a kind of a wonder - he spoke about resistance from a peculiarly Catholic/Decon. subjectivity - he self-negates by privileging the spoken word above the written life of the letter, as being the realm of voices and, in a sense, revelation.... He strikes me (without having read much Levinas) as being an almost New Testament version of Derrida's Levinas, at least..... I look forward to reading more of him!
Jun 03, 2016 Teresa rated it it was ok
I found it rather uneven. Sometimes de Certeau keeps himself on track and other times it seems like he's just torturing his point or engaging in flights of fancy. There's also something that feels wrong about writing about the Common Man and how he uses language in such convoluted prose that is quite difficult to decipher. The book moves from Freud and Wittgenstein to a more direct statement about texts/reading/writing.
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Spatial history 1 29 Jun 24, 2010 06:32PM  
  • The Production of Space
  • Outline of a Theory of Practice
  • The Condition of Postmodernity
  • Space And Place: The Perspective of Experience
  • Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity
  • The Location of Culture (Routledge Classics)
  • The Social Life of Things
  • Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory
  • Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life
  • Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory
  • Memory, History, Forgetting
  • Difference and Repetition
  • The Arcades Project
  • The Culture Industry
  • The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays
  • The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception
  • Image-Music-Text
  • Marxism and Literature

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“To walk is to lack a place. It is the indefinite process of being absent and in search of a proper. The moving about that the city mutliplies and concentrates makes the city itself an immense social experience of lacking a place -- an experience that is, to be sure, broken up into countless tiny deportations (displacements and walks), compensated for by the relationships and intersections of these exoduses that intertwine and create an urban fabric, and placed under the sign of what ought to be, ultimately, the place but is only a name, the City...a universe of rented spaces haunted by a nowhere or by dreamed-of places.” 31 likes
“To practice space is thus to repeat the joyful and silent experience of childhood; it is, in a place, to be other and to move toward the other...Kandinsky dreamed of: 'a great city built according to all the rules of architecture and then suddenly shaken by a force that defies all calculation.” 15 likes
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